All About the China Visa
Please note that Byevisa is unable to assist with visas to China at this time. As such, this page will tell you everything you need to know about getting travel authorisation to visit the People’s Republic. However, to obtain your travel pass you’ll have to look elsewhere.
In total there are 16 types of visa to enter China, issued to everyone from international crew members, to permanent immigrants to this famously populous Asian country, to people who intend to study there for less than 6 months or more long term. In short, every sort of life situation you might expect.
Here we’ll cover the most common 2 types of pass to visit the Red Dragon country for tourism and business:
- A paper tourist travel authorisation. In Chinese bureaucratic language, this is an ‘L’ visitor pass. This is a Single or Multiple Entry pass, typically valid for up to 30 days per visit, although it’s possible to obtain 60-day passes. This pass usually expires after 3 or 6 months, although some last up to a decade! To obtain this, you’ll have to fill in an application form and visit your nearest China Visa Application Centre. Your pass will be issued at the discretion of the government official there.
- A business Visa on Arrival (VoA). Under China’s system of visa classifications, this is an ‘M’ type authorisation. You’re eligible for this if you’re a citizen of most industrialised parts of the world, like the USA, UK, Schengen Zone or Ireland. This allows you to enter the country once for 30 days at the invitation of a Chinese business, and it expires afterwards. We’ll explain the other steps you need to obtain this travel pass.
In addition, it’s possible to obtain a Group Visa to enter the land of Peking duck, fried rice and dumplings. However, we won’t go into detail about this pass in this article, so if you’d like this authorisation for you and your friends or family, please look elsewhere.
Also, citizens of the following countries are currently exempt from needing a China tourist pass. So if you’re one of the following nationalities, you’re in luck! Bustling metropolises like Beijing, Shanghai, Wuhan, Shenzhen and Canton are more easily within reach for you:
- Bosnia and Herzegovina****
- San Marino****
- United Arab Emirates**
* For 15-day visits
** For 30-day visits
*** For 60-day visits
**** For 90-day visits
Visa for China Application Process
1. Paper ‘L’-type tourist visa
There are 2 steps to apply for Chinese tourism authorisation, whether you plan to see the imposing Terracotta Warriors or the astonishing Summer Palace:
- First, you’ll need to complete the application form.
- Second, you’ll need to visit a China Visa Application Centre.
These are located in 44 countries around the world, including North America, most of Europe and Australia. In countries without an Application Centre, you will apply through the embassy or consulate. Please find below what you’ll need to complete both these steps:
1A. China Visa application form
To fill in the traveller authorisation application form, you’ll need:
- Some personal details, like your name, gender, nationality and birthday.
- A hotel reservation or letter of invitation.
- A passport with at least 6 months’ validity from the arrival date and 2 blank pages.
1B. Chinese Visa Application Centre:
At your nearest Chinese travel authorisation processing centre, you’ll need:
- Your original passport and a photocopy of the passport’s data and photo page(s).
- Your printed application form.
- A recent, colour passport photo, with a white or off-white background.
- The details of your flight to and from the land of the Temple of Heaven.
- Your hotel reservation details or invitation letter to the country.
- A proof of your residency status, like a driver’s license or a utility bill.
- If this is not your first Chinese visa, a photocopy of your previous visa(s) for this country. If they are not in your current passport, you also need a photocopy of the data and photo page(s) of the relevant passport.
All your answers must be in English, except if and when you’re asked to write your name in your native alphabet.
The cost of this pass depends on your nationality, although it’s roughly 140 USD. You pay this fee at the processing centre when you submit your application, although not in cash.
The validity of the ’L’-type tourist pass varies, although it’s typically good for 3 or 6 months. In exceptional cases, the Chinese government issues passes that are valid for 10 years! Be sure to state which authorisation you’re applying for, although whether it’s accepted is at the official’s discretion. Therefore, be sure to check the travel pass you’re finally issued with.
2. Business ‘M’-type VoA
Similarly to the tourist pass, there are 2 steps to apply for authorisation to visit the People’s Republic on business. These are to fill in the application form, as well as the documents when you arrive to receive your pass. Please find a thorough list of what you’ll need below.
2A. First, to apply for the Chinese business Visa on Arrival, you’ll need the following:
- Some personal details, like your name, nationality, gender and birthday.
- A printed copy of all your passport pages, even the empty ones, and front and back cover.
- A passport photo taken within the last 3 months.
- A copy of your travel documents to and from China.
- A copy of your hotel reservation.
- An invitation letter from the Chinese company you’re dealing with.
2B. Please note that, with a business VoA, you can only fly into Shangai Pudong International Airport. When you land there you’ll need:
- Your passport, with at least 6 months’ validity from your date of entry, and at least 1 empty page to be stamped.
- The Official Notification of the Visa printed in colour. Black and white is not acceptable.
- Your VoA application form filled in by hand. It’s not acceptable to be typed.
- A passport-size photo taken in the last 3 months.
With all these documents handy, the officials there will then issue you your business VoA. Please note that entry into the country is at the official’s discretion, so fill in your application form carefully and take all the required supporting documents with you!
eVisa China Requirements and Eligibility
There are multiple eligibility requirements and restrictions for both these travel passes (L type and M type):
- You must use these travel authorisations for their intended purposes. For example, you cannot find permanent work or study in China with the paper pass or VoA. To do either of these things, please apply for the appropriate pass to enter the country.
- If you’re travelling into the land of the Great Wall and Forbidden Palace from a country at risk of yellow fever, you must be vaccinated. To see if this applies to you, visit the World Health Organisation’s website.
China tourist visa
- You’ll need this authorisation to enter unless you’re a citizen of an exempt country. Please see the top of this page for the list of exempt nationalities. If so, it’s your lucky day, because you won’t have to fill in lots of forms, queue or visit the embassy!
- The ‘L’-type tourist pass allows visits up to 60 days max, depending on which travel authorisation you receive. This will depend on the government’s decision. The pass is typically valid for 3 or 6 months, although its expiry date can be up to 10 years!
- You may receive a Single Entry or Multiple Entry travel pass, depending on which one you apply for and the official’s discretion. Respectively, these allow you to enter and exit the country: (1) once or (2) multiple times. For example, you might fly into China, hop the border to Russia or Mongolia for a visit, then hop back over again!
- Depending on your place of residence, you’ll have to visit the nearest China Visa Application Centre to apply for your travel pass. Be sure to search online for this.
- You cannot pay for your application in cash or personal cheque. It must be made with debit/credit card, money order or cashier’s cheque.
- If you’re flying into the home of Tiananmen Square on your way somewhere else, and you’ll be there for under 24 hours, you don’t need authorisation. Show your passport and onward flight ticket to border control, and they’ll provide a free stopover permit.
- Also, if your stopover in China lasts for over 24 hours, and up to 72 hours (3 days), you can apply for a visa-free transit permit when you land too. 51 nationalities can apply for this, including most industrialised parts of the world like the United States and Europe. You’ll need a valid passport and proof of your onward flight.
- In many cases, you don’t need authorisation to visit Hong Kong or Macao. This is the case if you’re from most developed parts of the world like the USA or Europe, so this is worth looking for.
- The business VoA is available to citizens of most developed areas like the USA and in Europe.
- You must fly into Shanghai Pudong International Airport within 30 days of your visa’s initial date, or it expires automatically. Be sure to coordinate your travel dates!
- You must apply for this travel authorisation at least 5 days before visiting Shanghai.
- If your passport was issued in or after 2015, you’ll need your old passport too when you apply.
- With this visitor authorisation, you can enter China for up to 30 days, Single Entry. This is to say that you can’t enter and exit the Red Dragon country multiple times.
- You must have at least a 1-night hotel reservation in Shanghai, Jiang Su or Zhe Jiang province.
China Visa Forms and Documents
When you apply for your traveller authorisation, you’ll need the documents listed in the sections above. In addition, you’ll typically need to provide the following personal and passport details:
- Your email address.
- Your first name, middle name if applicable, and last name.
- Your gender.
- Your nationality as it appears on your passport.
- Your birth date.
- Your country of birth.
- Your country of residence.
- Your passport number.
- Your passport’s issue date and expiry date.
- The type of travel pass you’re applying for.
- For the business VoA, the firm you work for, and the firm you’re visiting in China.
- For the business VoA, whether you’re ever been convicted of a crime in China.
To pay for your application, you’ll also typically need:
- Your name, as it appears on your debit/credit card.
- Your debit/credit card number.
- Your debit/credit card’s expiry month and year.
- The 3-digit CVC security code on the back of your card.
How Much Is an eVisa for China?
The cost of travel authorisation to China is the following:
- The paper tourist travel pass costs around 140 USD per person, depending on your nationality. To find the exact cost for your country, look online. You pay this fee at the embassy or consulate.
- The business visa on arrival costs from 210 USD to 310 USD per person, typically paid online. This depends on your nationality, so you’ll have to check in advance.
As we state above, you won’t be able to pay for your application in cash or a personal cheque. You’ll have to use debit/credit card, cashier’s cheque or money order. Also, you may have to pay a processing fee if you use an online service to make your application on your behalf.
More China Visa Questions and Information
Please find below more information if you’re travelling to China in the foreseeable future. If you have any questions we’ve not answered here, feel free to contact us!